The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today its response to a call for views on the potential development of a Scottish publicly-owned energy company (POEC). NFLA supports the concept of such a body as the focus for promoting further renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage schemes in Scotland, but it does need to be approached carefully and with full consideration. (1)
The NFLA responds to a call for views from the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee. The Committee is analysing the merits or otherwise of a Scottish Energy Company to be able to penetrate a crowded market, and other benefits such an organisation could have in Scotland. (2)
In England, a number of Councils have developed either fully-fledged energy companies, such as Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy Co and Bristol Energy, while others (including a number of Scottish Councils) have developed a variety of energy models for areas they excel in, or in cooperation with a third party. A recent analysis published in ‘The Guardian’ notes there remains real challenge in developing such entities, but many are already providing value at the local level. (3) NFLA has recently published a detailed report of excellent examples of best practice with Councils in delivering low carbon projects. (4)
The NFLA’s response to this call for views was greatly helped by an opinion piece provided for it by Dr David Toke, who argues that a Scottish POEC could offer consumers cheaper electricity than its rivals by offering environmentally-friendly generators long-term deals. Such a move could give the Scottish Government’s planned new utility provider a “distinctive appeal” that would rate higher than its rivals in terms of offering green energy. This could “re-energise” the renewable energy sector in Scotland and “deliver electricity at competitive prices for the consumer”. (5)
The NFLA response looks in detail at the potential for developing a POEC, considers some potential drawbacks and the real benefits that can come from its creation.
Its three core conclusions are:
- The NFLA supports the idea of establishing a Scottish POEC, but is concerned that the promotion of new renewable energy projects has been relegated to a second phase. There is a risk that this second phase may never happen.
- A POEC which promotes energy efficiency and low cost renewable electricity would have the effect of reducing energy costs for Scottish consumers. It would provide a unique offer to Scottish consumers – a company which can provide cheap low carbon energy.
- A POEC should support and assist work already going on in local authorities and local communities, rather than setting itself up in competition with other community initiatives. A POEC should also support the innovative work on developing hydrogen and green gas currently going on in Scotland.
NFLA Scotland Convener, Councillor Feargal Dalton said:
“Over the past decade, NFLA has become an advocate for ambitious delivery of local, low carbon decentralised energy schemes. Across Scotland, Councils have played their part in ensuring Scotland is one of the leading generators of renewable energy in Europe. Delivering a Publicly-Owned Energy Company to continue this delivery could be important at a time when the UK Government is slashing financial support for small-scale renewable feed-in tariffs. Our view to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee is that the Scottish Government should look at developing such an entity to help drive renewable energy to the next phase, to focus it on the alleviation of fuel poverty by promoting more comprehensive energy efficiency programmes, and to look at ways for offering those that need it cheaper energy. This should not be done though in competition with Councils and community energy cooperatives, but in cooperation with them. I hope such positive work can be brought forward to continue to further drive Scotland’s low carbon energy revolution.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Policy Briefing 179, ‘A Scottish Publicly Owned Energy Company – the views of the NFLA’, August 2018 is attached with this media release and will be on the homepage of the NFLA website – http://www.nuclearpolicy.info.
(2) Scoping note for Scottish Parliament Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee, August 2018
(3) The Guardian, 22nd August 2018
(4) NFLA Policy Briefing 175 – ‘Decentralised energy and the climate change imperative’, 16th May 2018
(5) NFLA Policy Briefing 177 – ‘How Scotland’s new energy company could revive renewable energy in Scotland – a personal view by Dr David Toke’, 27th July 2018